Reviewed in brief: 'I Origins,' 'Siddharth,' 'Cannibal' and 'Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed'

  • Updated: July 24, 2014 - 2:12 PM
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Michael Pitt stars as a celebrated scientist, and Brit Marling plays his new lab student in “I Origins.”

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I Origins
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: R for some sexuality/nudity, and language.
Theater: Edina.

 

Would a world-renowned molecular biologist devote his life to disproving a logical fallacy? In “I Origins,” Michael Pitt plays Ian, a celebrated scientist seeking proof that the mammalian eye is not evidence of divine design but a result of genetic mutation over eons. (The fallacy, known as the argument from ignorance, claims that if we can’t explain such complex structures as the eye, they must be supernatural.)

His brilliant new lab student, Karen (Sundance darling Brit Marling, who co-wrote), joins his quest to debunk creationism. Ian’s focus drifts from the task as he woos a New Agey French model (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), who challenges his dry rationalism. After a traumatic break, she’s out of the picture, with Ian pining for his lost love. Another researcher presents him with tantalizing circumstantial evidence that Ian could be reunited with her if he follows a spiritual path leading him to India’s teeming streets.

The film doesn’t rush to solve the mystery of whether Ian the skeptic is discovering a new realm of spiritual activity or merely grasping at coincidence and magical thinking. Those who have seen Marling’s earlier ventures in metaphysical sci-fi “Another Earth” and “Sound of My Voice” will have no trouble guessing.
COLIN COVERT

 

Siddharth
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Mature themes. In subtitled Hindi.
Theater: Edina.

 

An engrossing, melancholy film about a 12-year-old boy who vanishes. Since he’s gone missing in India, finding him means searching a haystack of haystacks. Mahendra, (Rajesh Tailang), a cash-strapped Delhi father of two, sends his firstborn Siddharth (Irfan Khan, not the adult star but a similarly named child actor) to work in a distant factory. When the boy doesn’t return after his monthlong apprenticeship, Mahendra encounters indifferent authorities, underfunded social workers, fair-weather friends, and acquaintances who extend selfless assistance.

The story begins as a detective story of sorts, with the decent, uneducated father chasing down clues and dead ends. It grows into a rich portrait of a fallible man doing his best for his kin against overwhelming odds. Young Khan appears in three different roles, a low-key touch of magical realism. Director/co-writer Richie Mehta is wonderfully observant, balancing Mahendra’s lonely quest against the exuberant, colorful excess of Indian city life. He mines the situation for rich drama while avoiding the temptation to wallow in bathos. Like Vittorio De Sica’s “The Bicycle Thief,” the film uses downbeat themes to make a point about this particular society and life in general.
C.C.

 

Cannibal
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Mature themes. In subtitled Spanish.
When: 10 p.m. Sat.
Theater: St. Anthony Main.

 

A wintry psychological thriller about a fastidious Spanish tailor who keeps his refrigerator chock full of filleted flesh. Carlos (broodingly handsome Antonio de la Torre) is a gentleman of mild-mannered propriety, living solo in a tidy apartment, and discreetly staging accidents on Seville’s remote country lanes for the roadkill. Director Manuel Martín Cuenca generates exquisite slow-burning tension from his methodical serial killer.

Carlos is as dispassionate as a wolf, maintaining his veneer of normalcy with iron self-control. A kinky element of romance enters the tale when the sister of a victim who lived in Carlos’ building takes up tenancy in her apartment and begins asking questions. Playing both the victim and her inquisitive sibling, Olimpia Melinte projects an innocence as complex and layered as De la Torre’s silky menace. When beauty courts the beast, can he be redeemed or must death be the finale? This elegant, excellent genre piece keeps us guessing and gasping right to the end.
C.C.

 

LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED
⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Unrated: Mature themes. In subtitled Spanish.
Theater: St. Anthony Main.

 

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